Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mustangs well represented at Alberta's ABC Border Bowl victory

Former Mustangs at the 2016 ABC Border Bowl:
Austin Bruder, Thane Buckingham, Riley Sokownin
(Kim Buckingham photos)

Originally published January 18, 2017.  Updated with Riley Sokownin interview.

Chris Davis - Way back on December 10 Alberta won the annual 2016 ABC Border Bowl Current Stars Game at Chilliwack BC's Exhibition Park, an event that organizers now refer to as  the "2016 ABC Snow Bowl".  The game featured athletes in grades 11 and 12 from Alberta and British Columbia.  The two teams played in a foot and a half to two feet of snow, with the snow still falling.  Alberta won 8-6.  Three young men familiar to Pincher Creek Mustangs fans were on the Alberta team: Austin Bruder (Left Tackle Offence, Pincher Creek Mustangs). Riley Sokownin (QB Lethbridge's Winston Churchill Bulldogs), and Thane Buckingham (Strong Side Linebacker, Taber's WR Rebels).  All three began their football careers as Pincher Creek Mustangs.  Also in attendance was Dennis Sokownin, who coached all three nine years ago.

With former Mustangs coach Dennis Sokownin
Riley, Austin and Thane last played together in Peewee.  "We all played together for three years when we were very young, then we all split apart and played against each other on three different high school teams," explained Buckingham. video

The weather was brutal, by all accounts. The Chillliwack parents came out and shoveled the lines out for the entire game so the referees could see them as the snow continued. According to Austin Bruder, that worked in Alberta's favour. "We are used to it, they weren't, so it was a big advantage, on our part. We were out there, warming up and running through plays in the snow. You could see them come out and they just kind of gave up and went back into the change rooms. Instead of announcing the home team first, they announced us first, so we would be out in the cold longer..." It was the second ABC Border Bowl appearance for Bruder, who said the Alberta Bantam team he was on got shellacked there a couple of years ago. A two point win was a welcome change, but he thought Alberta could have done a little better. "We could have punched one in at the last minute. there was forty two seconds left, and we were at the 4 yard line, but we just took the heat, instead of putting it in. It was more of a defence game, the whole time. It was really hard to move the ball in the snow."

"It was rough."
Bruder said there were a number of issues to contend with . "They had a pretty strong interior defensive line." Different rules also played a part. Used to the rule of three downs, the game was played with four downs. "We weren't used to that. We are used to maybe one run, and if you don't get enough yards you start passing, otherwise, it's not going to work out." There were new plays and new players in addition to new rules to contend with. 

Austin Bruder
Bruder said the planned plane to Chilliwack was cancelled due to snowstorm so team Alberta took a bus. The bus was delayed enroute, as one hill had a number of semis who could not make it up a hill and had to put on chains. "We were stuck in the middle of it." They arrived 1:00 am the day of the game.
Of playing with two former Mustangs he said "It was alright, not a lot of interaction from offence to defense though."

I asked him if he had any advice for younger athletes. "It's a grind, but you just have to keep going. Specially if you are playing for Pincher Creek. That's our whole offence." He has been playing 10 years, first playing for Coach Tom Holoboff. "I started when I was eight."   Bruder is set to graduate high school this year.  Bruder said all three former Mustangs are talking to Edmonton in hopes of trying out for the Huskies team.

Lethbridge's Winston Churchhill Bulldogs QB Riley Sokownin said it was his first time participating an ABC Bowl.  "It was a super cool experience to have to try out and then get picked to be on the team. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of really great guys were on the team, too. It was a really good experience to get with football."  He's considering his future football plans.  "I am considering trying out for a junior team, in Calgary or Edmonton."
"Never give up, or doubt what you can do. I did doubt what I could do in grade 7. I partly didn't want to play for a yeart. But as you keep going, you grow and progress as you learn about the sport. It can take you to incredible places."

It was the fourth year at the ABC Border Bowl for Thane Buckingham, who explained how the teams are created. "It's pretty much the best from all across all of Alberta for the Alberta team, and the same for the BC team." He said he appreciates the scope of learning that he has received from all of the coaches who participate. "They are very high level, they have experience in CFL, colleges down in the states, They are impressive coaches."  Buckingham is also in his last year of high school.  "I have had offers from scouts especially because of the Alberta Bowl, because it's streamed live." Among those offers, the Calgary Colts, the Calgary Dinos, and the Edmonton Golden Bears. will be graduating this year

"It was some of the deepest snow I have ever played in, and that is coming from some who grew up in Pincher Creek." Every 5 yard line was shoveled, showing the progression, and as it was continuing to snow parents would help re shovel the lines between plays. He had the same assessment of the Alberta advantage as Bruder. "I think that snow was a big factor that changed the game, and the reason Alberta came out on top. A lot of Alberta players are used to the colder temperatures and the climate conditions, and BC is not. Football plays in any condition, so it was a good showcase for that. It showed the true grit of the players, playing at that level."

"My team had a really good year this year, Pincher Creek had their really impressive year last year, and Riley's has some really good years, but this was really special. We never really got to be together and strive and be together for our really big triumphs. We never got to have a mature really big win together. When you matured as a player with them when you were little, you are missing that." He said it was a very positive way to end their respective high school football careers, whether they continue with football or not. "To have that one more win together, just like the good old days."

Asked for advice for younger athletes Buckingham said "When you are young, it can be a really intimidating sport. It can be really intimidating, it can be really aggressive. But no other sport can give you the discipline the determination and the will to really put work into something like this game." 

"Football gave me the skills for many of the things in life, not just sports." Buckingham said he believes that football is special for that, but said any sport that you focus on will help to create that drive. "If you stick to one thing, put all of your heart into it, you can go to great places."

Tryouts will be held in February for several age groups for upcoming Border Bowl games in Lethbridge on May 27. Click here for more information.

Austin with mom Charleen

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Comments are moderated before being published. Please be civil.

Infinite Scroll